Sofyan Amrabat slammed as "fish out of water" after miserable Man Utd Premier League debut
Sofyan Amrabat's long awaited Premier League debut for Manchester United proved a deflating one as the Red Devils were beaten 1-0 at Old Trafford by Crystal Palace
The pursuit of Sofyan Amrabat turned into a summer-long saga for Erik ten Hag - but the much-hailed loan signing was described as a "fish out of water" on his Premier League debut for Manchester United.
If last Saturday's 1-0 win at Burnley - followed by a comfortable Carabao Cup win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday - had seemingly eased the pressure, then the Eagles piled it back on after their second visit to Old Trafford in a week. Joachim Andersen's first-half goal proved enough to condemn United to a fourth league defeat of the season.
Amrabat, who signed on a season-long loan from Fiorentina, had made his United bow in the midweek cup game but at left back, and not his favoured central-midfield berth. Injuries to Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia have currently left Ten Hag short in that department.
He started in the same position for his first game in England's top flight, and duly struggled. And his display did not escape BBC 5 Live pundit Chris Sutton, who honed in on one particular poor piece of play in the second half.
"Given away a free kick, being driven back towards his own goal by (Jordan) Ayew and he palms it, a keeper would be proud of that," said Sutton. "He's not looked comfortable in that left back position today, like a fish out of water."
On the contrary, the former Blackburn and Celtic striker was complimentary about the away back four, saying: "All the Palace defence, but particularly Guehi and Andersen at centre backs, have been absolute rocks."
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The Red Devils now have four critical games before they host Man City on October 29. Sandwiched between must-win Champions League clashes with Galatasaray and Copenhagen is a home game with Brentford and a trip to rock-bottom Sheffield United.
And where the manager chooses to deploy Amrabat, one of the stars of Morocco's 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar, is one of a number of big questions facing the Dutchman. Mason Mount and Casemiro were favoured in the middle against Palace, but both underwhelmed in a stuttering team display.
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United lie 10th in the table, with just nine points from seven games. Their latest defeat confirmed their worst start to a top-flight campaign after seven matches for 34 years.